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The Department of Political and Cultural Studies (PCS) boasts a dynamic research environment with a committed staff all of whom are research-active. Academic members of staff have a very considerable range of research interests on which we offer supervision for research degrees including International Relations.

Key Features of MA by Research in International Relations

An MA by Research in International Relations offered in PCS gives you the chance to pursue a major research project based around your own passions and interests in International Relations, leading to a qualification which can open the door to an academic career or boost employment prospects outside academia. It will give you the freedom to explore a topic of your choosing in International Relations and develop a methodology under the close supervision of two experienced academics but without attending regular classes as required in taught programmes.

Typically, as a student on the International Relations research programme, you will work closely with your supervisors, meeting them regularly, in many instances fortnightly, in the first term and at regular intervals thereafter. Meetings are logged and goals agreed each time.

Students enrolled in the MA by Research in International Relations are required to attend skills and training courses at College and University level. You may also be expected to give presentations to other research students and staff at departmental seminars and attend the postgraduate conference of the College of Arts and Humanities which is held in October.

The MA by Research in International Relations is ideal for those who want:

  • an MA qualification in areas where taught programmes are not offered;
  • the experience of a research degree without committing to a PhD at the outset.

Research proposals are invited on any topic in International Relations for which staff in PCS can provide supervision. It is a good idea to enter into discussions about your research project before drawing up an initial proposal and starting the application process.

Departmental Research Expertise

At any one time, the department has over forty research students who work together with their supervisors on their projects including International Relations.  

In the area of International Relations and Development Studies, the department has expertise in International Security and Strategic Studies; the international politics of space; gender, childhood and child soldiers; North- and South East Asia; West Africa; transitional justice and international crimes; post-war reconstruction; multi-nationals and corporate social responsibility; governance and international development, including aid policy and practice; the role of civil society organisations in development contexts; human rights and international development; history of military thought and military culture; European diplomatic history.

In the field of history of political thought, political philosophy and political theory, there is research expertise in European political thought; democratic theory; political and moral philosophy; Ludwig Wittgenstein; neo-Kantian ethics; human rights; just war theory and international ethics; philosophy of religion; philosophical anthropology; postcolonialism and Orientalism. 

Politics and International Studies Research

Research in Politics and International Studies at Swansea has a history going back over 50 years, and Swansea is one of the few universities to have hosted the annual conference of the UK Political Studies Association twice, in 1994 and 2008. Research draws on disciplinary expertise in politics and international relations, as well as research at the inter-disciplinary boundaries in the Department of Political and Cultural Studies with philosophy, media studies, development studies and policy studies. 

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) considered seventy per cent of our research to be world leading or internationally excellent, and all but two percent as of internationally recognised quality. We rose sixteen places in the UK rankings to be placed 21=, scoring particularly highly for the quality of our research publications and the impact of our research on a wide variety of economic, social and political organisations. We have 18 research active permanent staff, including Professor Mark Bevir (California, Berkeley), as distinguished research professor. External research funding more than doubled for the REF 2014 assessment and we are on target to at least double income again for the expected REF2020.  

We have two research groups: political analysis and governance (PAG); and International Studies, Conflict and Security (ISCAS). These are complemented by a research centre, the Global Drug Policy Observatory, externally funded by the Open Society Foundations. 

We have a strategy for research impact that has led to major global, national and sub-national impacts on public policy and professional organisations. Postgraduate research students' training is conducted through the politics and international relations, and language-based area studies pathways of the Wales ESRC Doctoral Training Centre. Currently our postgraduate research school has twenty five research students, including students funded by ESRC, University and Nawal Al Sharif studentships. 

Researchers in politics and international studies at Swansea are very active in organising conferences and panels, and the department as a whole has a regular series of departmental seminars. Individual staff are also highly active in leading national and international research networks and collaborations. At Swansea we play leading roles in the activities and inter-disciplinary research centres of the University level Research Institute of Arts and Humanities (RIAH) and Research Institute of the Applied Social Sciences (RIASS).  

Research Groups 

Members of staff in Politics and International Relations are involved in a number of Research Groups including:

  • The Center on Digital Arts and Humanities (CODAH)
  • Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO)
  • The Conflict, Reconstruction and Memory Group (CRAM) 
  • International Studies, Conflict and Security (ISCAS)
  • Political Analysis and Governance (PAG)

Visit the International Relations MA by Research page on the Swansea University website for more details!




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